Farm Newsletter September! 4, 2018
Surprise!! The most surprising month of the year is here!
Cooler days and nights, shorter days and longer nights … times they are-a-changin’. September has all sorts of surprises — new schedules and routines, new people, and all the new challenges they all bring to our lives. In the fields we are ready to start harvesting more gifts of summer, for the yields and colors and quality to surprise us, in all these crops that have been hiding under vines and under ground for many weeks, hiding their progress. We can peek — pull aside the vines, take a pitchfork and dig a bucketful — but we don’t really know til we start picking for real. If we don’t get held up by rains, this week we’ll hopefully cut and windrow and pick up all the winter squash into bins. We have two more mystery plantings of carrots to pick before we dig into the 3 acre mystery of the last planting for winter storage; the rains have been cracking and rotting a few carrots in this current planting and they’ve been struggling to get big enough. In a week or so we’ll coax the sweet potatoes out of the ground too, to cure for a couple weeks. Nearly all the “peeks” so far into the lives and works of these busy plants indicate that the surprises will be pleasant and gratifying. Nothing to do but wait, do, eat well and laugh along the way!
The picture above is a chrysalis of a monarch butterfly that attached to a tomato. Again the wonder of all that goes unseen around us jumped out at us to be seen a little. This chrysalis hatched and was gone just a few hours after we brought its tomato-home back to the barn. We didn’t get to see it fly away, but we (and so many others) have seen so many monarchs this year we can’t help but wonder about one of 2018’s biggest surprises and mysteries of our plant and bug life : Why are there so many monarchs and so few mosquitoes this year? Any information you have on this subject will stop us in our tracks on even most of our busy harvest days…nearly every day now is a busy harvest day, digging for surprises!
The transition from summer crops to fall crops can be a tricky one — having enough of summer veggies (since their yields can plummet with cooler weather), coming in while the fall veggies finish ripening and sizing up. While everything else is on track to be the same as last week, it’s a little less abundant than we aim for. Due to the short supply, we’ll have to lower the bag size on the white bag / mix-and-match “durables” table.
We’ll have a trickle of cucumbers and summer squash and zucchini — it is so dang hard to plant the right amount of those crops. Early in the summer, despite shrinking the plantings, we had waaay too much, so we finally took the plunge and shrunk the last two plantings too, hoping to save some labor and still have enough for the share. But we under-watered the last one during the dry month, and now the cool temps are making it hard for it to catch up, and it seems like it’s just not quite enough plants. Broccoli and cauliflower are taking their time sizing up ; they usually help with this transition time too. For now, eat peppers and tomatoes!!! We’ll have winter squash soon, see below.
Cantaloupes and Watermelons — We might have a few stragglers — late bloomers and ripeners — this week. If they taste decent we’ll bring them in; sometimes the last-hurrah fruits can be less flavorful or the texture can be off, especially as the temps cool off and it rains a lot. If we do have them this week it would be the first time we’ve ever had melons in the share for a 6th week — maybe a bonus surprise from the melon patch!
We’re picking the new tender planting of kale and it is so yummy. This is a great time to slice it thin (“chiffonade”, as Ben was taught by chefs as a teenager chopping veggies in busy kitchens) and mix it in with lettuce and greens in a salad or on a sandwich; or try a Rubbed / Massaged Kale salad (see recipe below) — these tender mild leaves might just work for any lukewarm kale tastebuds in your house.
Maybe next week the spaghetti squash will be ready to eat — it’s in the greenhouse curing now but we need some sun to help it along. The other squashes look ready but they will need to cure — they should be good to great in a couple weeks, starting with delicata, acorn and carnival, buttercup and ambercup, then butternut in maybe 3 weeks. This typical order might get mixed up though — like the melons the winter squashes loved this summer’s weather, and some ripened up early while others (delicata for sure, which we had to replant late due to bad germination the first time) look a little less than ready.
Soon there will be spinach in the share too — though for reasons we still don’t understand we couldn’t get those seeds to come up more than 30% so we might have less than usual, despite re-planting. We’re bummed. It’s such a fantastic addition to all the hearty fall foods, and helps the transition. The good news is that we normally sell a lot of spinach to the colleges and the co-op – so our plantings are a lot bigger than normal for the amount we’d need for the share. The plants look ok, not great, so if it’s 30% germ and low yields we might have just the right amount for you….. another surprise for September. We’ll see.
What’s for U-Pick?
Remember to bring SCISSORS for flower picking — maybe leave a pair in your car.
Cherry tomatoes unlimited — Grab the bounty while you can! There are quite a few orange ones ready again after the weekend — If it does pour on Tuesday it might unfortunately knock many off and/or split their skins…you can still eat the split ones, they taste fine if eaten soon before mold is visible in the split. Hopefully it just doesn’t pour…for many other reasons on the farm too! … of course you can come back any day to upick when it’s drier.
Beans — Edamame is ready and the others are continuing to produce. The eastern plantings of beans are the youngest, so you will most likely find the smallest beans in those plantings.
Cilantro , Dill, Basil, PLUS Parsley, Oregano, Thyme, Sage, Anise Hyssop (great for use in tea).
Nuts and Bolts
TOMATO BOXES ARE STILL HERE!!!!! We have lots so order freely, preferably 2 days in advance. There will be boxes for spontaneous buys during the share too.
Bulk Produce for You — Check here each newsletter for what we have available for extra purchase.
This week’s selection is : Carrots, Beets, $1 / lb. Lettuce Mix for $5 / lb. Cabbage for 60 cents /lb (approx $1-1.50 / head). Red and/or Green Peppers, $2/ lb. Garlic $1 / head. Tomato Boxes, 12 lb Seconds for $20.
Remember your reusable bags and also to sign in when you pick up your share.
Share Pickup Hours TUESDAY and THURSDAY 1:30-6:30 pm.
Change Pick-Up Day Form — Click here. Please fill out this form instead of emailing us. Thanks!
Please Drive Carefully —Children are everywhere.
Erin and Ben, with Allia, Alissa, Danny, and Fatuma
MASSAGED KALE SALAD
- Yield: 4 servings
- 5 large leaves kale, cut into a fine chiffonade*
- 6 crimini or button mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1 avocado, roughly chopped
- Pinch of Kosher salt
- 1 – 2 lemons, juiced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2 large handfuls baby spinach, roughly chopped
- 1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
- 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 small shallots or 1 large, or 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- Handful of coarsely chopped slivered almonds
- 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast powder (or 2 tablespoons if using nutritional yeast flakes)
- *To cut the kale into a fine chiffonade, simply stack the kale leaves on top of one another, roll them up like a cigar, and then cut into thin strips, creating fine ribbons of kale.
- Place the thinly sliced shallots/onion in a bowl of ice water for at least 10 minutes, then drain. This will remove the pungency and raw “bite”.
- In a large salad bowl, place the kale, mushrooms, avocado, salt, and the juice of 1 lemon. Rub and squeeze the mixture with your hands until the kale begins to wilt, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, spinach, carrot, tomatoes, and shallots/onion and mix gently with your hands just to combine. Add the slivered almonds and nutritional yeast, and stir to combine.
- Taste and add more Kosher salt and the juice of the second lemon if you think it needs it. I typically add the juice from 1/2 of the second lemon. It gives it that extra kick of brightness that I personally love.
Roasted Peppers with Garlic and Herbs
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Coarse salt and ground pepper
Fresh basil leaves, torn